An unseasonal comment
Like many others I am having that ‘once in a decade’ experience of carrying a shovel and bag of salt around in the car wherever I go. I find myself wondering why cars are a priority for municipal grit and pedestrians are not and reflecting on how susceptible our dispersed way of life is to travel restrictions. So why not also reflect on something that is perhaps less seasonal? Energy and fuel poverty.
A part of the future for power generation could, and probably should, include a more dispersed approach, in other words: photo-voltaic cells (PVs), local wind power and combined heat and power for villages and neighbourhoods. However, if we can learn anything from other european countries it is that this will not happen without changes to the regulatory framework and new tax incentives. The key is allowing the sale of surplus electricity back into the national grid. Arguably, however, dispersed approaches to energy generation will only really work in rural areas. This is where low value energy sources do not have to be moved too far from where they are grown and there is a greater proportion of square feet of roof space to numbers of people on which to put PVs. Dense areas of population - towns and cities - tend to create the need for centralised power generation because they do not fulfil either of these criteria.
Our gas supplies are under pressure and our highly centralised approach to electricity generation is looking a bit risky. At the same time older people living in rural areas are especially susceptible to fuel poverty because of their lack of choice of fuel source. Perhaps we should take our memories of these early, white, months of 2010 and think very hard about how we can give ourselves, as a nation, greater energy security in the domestic market and create a new income stream for rural communities.